Musicians will enter on this new work (the composition of sacred music) with the desire to continue that tradition which has furnished the Chruch, in her divine worship, with a truly abundant heritage.  Let them examine the woks of the past, their types and characteristics, ... so that "new forms may in some way grow organically from forms that already exist," and the new work will form a new part in the musical heritage of the Church, not unworthy of its past,

-Musicam Sacram, Art. 59

The Schola Cantorum of St. Peter the Apostle


James Michael Thompson, Director

James Michael Thompson founded the Schola Cantorum of St. Peter the Apostle, Chicago, in 1988. The Schola is a professional ensemble of men and women with a roster of fifty singers, engaged in liturgical work across the United States and Canada. They have over 50 recordings of sacred music. 

J. Michael received his bachelor’s degree in music history and German from Lawrence University, Appleton, Wisconsin, and his master’s degree in church music from Concordia University, River Forest, Illinois. He made seminary studies at Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis, Missouri, and Saint Sophia Ukranian Orthodox Seminary, South Bound Brook, New Jersey. From 1988 to 1999 he was the Director of Music Ministry at Saint Peter’s in the Loop, a large Roman Catholic church in the business district of Chicago which is staffed by the Franciscan Friars. He was the professor of ecclesiastical chant at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the cantor/director of music at the Byzantine Catholic Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Munhall, Pennsylvania, from 2001 to 2007. Author, editor, and composer, he is well known in the Midwest for choral and liturgical work.


Fr. George Drance, Jr. SJ

Fr. George Drance, Jr. SJ, entered the Society of Jesus after his Junior year of college at Marquette University where he majored in Theatre. He was ordained in 1995 and received his MFA in Acting from Columbia University in 1998. He is artist-in-residence and teacher at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center Campus and artistic director of Magis Theatre Company. He has been a guest artist and lecturer at Columbia University, Santa Clara University, Hebrew Union College, Marymount Manhattan College and Boston College, and has presented workshops for the the New York State Theatre Education Association, the Voice Foundation, the Austrian Voice Institute, and the Kennedy Center‘s International Cultural Exchange Program.  

As a theatre artist, he has performed and directed in over twenty countries on five continents. The critically acclaimed Magis Theatre Company is best known for the Off-Broadway productions of C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce and most recently for *mark: a solo performance of the Gospel of Mark. Other acting credits include The Metropolitan Opera, The Public Theatre/New York Shakespeare Festival,and the American Repertory Theater.

He has previously recorded with the Schola Cantorum, singing the deacon's parts for Roman Hurko's Liturgy No. 3.

About the Schola

The Schola Cantorum of St. Peter the Apostle (formerly the Schola Cantorum of St. Peter's-in-the-Loop), Chicago, Illinois, sang for the first time on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul in 1988 at Solemn Evening Prayer. Since that first service, the women and men of the Schola have sung for Solemn Eucharist, Solemn Evening Prayer, Communal Penance Services, weddings, priest's first Masses, simple and solemn professions, ordinations to the diaconate and priesthood, and various other services. Made up of professionally trained musicians, the Schola is dedicated to the principles enshrined in the documents of the Second Vatican Council as elaborated by the Bishops' Commission on the Liturgy:  to lead the faithful in the singing of the Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours, to preserve the treasury of sacred music, and to enlarge the repertory of choral music.

The Schola has been invited by parishes in the Archdiocese of Chicago to bring its skills in leading musical worship to them. The Schola has been a frequent guest of Ukrainian Catholic and Byzantine Catholic parishes in Chicago and in Munster, Indiana, singing in English, Church Slavonic, and in Ukrainian. Since it began,  the Schola has also played a large part in the ecumenical and inter-religious work of the Archdiocese and has sung at a variety of inter-faith services. The Schola was featured as one of "Chicago's Sacred Treasures" on a television documentary. Several national organizations have featured the Schola, either in leading worship or in giving concerts.

The Schola Cantorum has published fifty recordings from The Liturgical Press, World Library Publications, Imaginary Road Records/PolyGram Classics and Jazz, Liturgy Training Publications. the Byzantine Seminary Press, The Metropolitan Andriy Sheptytsky Institue of Easter Christian Studies, the Sisters of St. Basil the Great in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, and Caro Publications.

Members of the Schola who participated in the recording of the Mass of St. Philip Neri:


Carling FitzSimmons

Kaitlin Foley

Carey Goldenberg

Adriana Kopecka

Jillian Krickl

Elaine Pierce

Adriana Silvero

Cynthia Spiegel


Jennifer Kerr Budziak

Lon Ellenberger

Gail Gillispie

Liz Hay

Sonia Ness

Kirin Nielson

Evelyn Wagner,



Edward Bee

Kyle Cothern

Andrew Paul Fredel

Luis Galvez

Dan Krout

John Slauson

Fred Vipond


Michael D.  Costello

Carl Frank

Ian Hosack

Joseph Hubbard

Luciano Laurentiu

Peter Morgan

Anselm Soyring

Vince Wallace

Eric Wallbruch

Timothy Woods


©Paul Jernberg and Magnificat Academy.